[ uh-trak-ter ]
/ əˈtræk tər /


a person or thing that attracts.
Physics. a state or behavior toward which a dynamic system tends to evolve, represented as a point or orbit in the system's phase space.

Origin of attractor

First recorded in 1645–55 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for attractor

Science definitions for attractor


[ ə-trăktər ]

A set of states of a dynamic physical system toward which that system tends to evolve, regardless of the starting conditions of the system.♦ A point attractor is an attractor consisting of a single state. For example, a marble rolling in a smooth, rounded bowl will always come to rest at the lowest point, in the bottom center of the bowl; the final state of position and motionlessness is a point attractor.♦ A periodic attractor is an attractor consisting of a finite or infinite set of states, where the evolution of the system results in moving cyclically through each state. The ideal orbit of a planet around a star is a periodic attractor, as are periodic oscillations. A periodic attractor is also called a limit-cycle.♦ A strange attractor is an attractor for which the evolution through the set of possible physical states is nonperiodic (chaotic), resulting in an evolution through a set of states defining a fractal set. Most real physical systems (including the actual orbits of planets) involve strange attractors.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.